The aircraft was not small, but it certainly wasn’t a 747. It was large enough to shuttle a reasonable number of people from Israel on their way to India. This included Christian tourists who had visited the Holy Land and was now on their way to the pyramids. Also on the plane were ex-soldiers just released from their military service. They were on their way to blow it out with parties in Goa. And Rainbow ‘hippies’ looking for nirvana. It was the fashion of the Israeli girls to shave their heads when leaving the service. There were a lot of bald heads on the plane.
After a short hour-and-a-half flight, we landed in Cairo and were ushered off the plane. Our connecting flight arriving in a couple of hours would be late. We passed through customs to enter the airport. This was when we were told that our connecting flight had been delayed an additional three hours. They would have us stay in a five-star hotel in downtown Cairo. Our Israeli friends, on the other hand, would stay in the three-star hotel at the airport. “No, thank you,” we said. “We prefer to stay with our friends.”
“But you are Americans and must stay at the five-star hotel. Everything is paid for,” the customs agent insisted.
“No, thank you,” we repeated. “We prefer to stay with our friends.”
Again they insisted, and again we declined. Eventually, they gave up. Looking at us like we were crazy to turn down the hotel and assign us a room at the airport.
We hung out with our friends for a while and then decided we were tired. The airport staff said they would call the room before time to board the next flight.
The room, while nothing fancy, was quite comfortable, and we settled in for a short nap. The phone ringing awakened us. Our connecting flight was another four to five hours late. But, we could continue to stay in our room pending further developments. Sometime in the early morning, we received a call that we would be boarding shortly. After a shower and dressing, we proceeded to the gate. All those people who had been shuttled to the five-star hotel had been shuttled back. They had been sprawled out camping on the plastic airport seating since last night. They looked at us bleary-eyed as all of us that stayed at the airport hotel bounced in, rested and refreshed. It pays to stand by your friends and your beliefs.
Soon, we were excitedly boarding the plane to Bombay, India! This was a much larger aircraft, and it was packed. We overheard one young Israeli man sitting near us saying he would pay for his whole trip with the goods he was bringing his friends in Goa. Potted meats. It was something that his friends were craving!
We had not planned our itinerary for India, but we were sure we would skip Goa’s heavy party scene. Someone had mentioned a calm and relaxed place called Om beach. After three months in Israel, we were ready for calm. A long rest sounded good to us.
Five hours later, we began the descent to the Bombay airport. Everyone scrambled to get their bags from the carousel as we departed the plane. Only having carry-on luggage, we got in line to pass through customs. The young man who had been bragging about paying for his trip had been lucky enough to grab his huge duffle bag from the carousel and make it to one of the customs lines that had just opened. As the agent opened the bag to inspect it, he burst out laughing.
To the horror of the young man, all of the cans of meat had exploded In the plane’s depressurized storage area. The duffle bag was filled with the exploded potted meat. Laughing, the customs agents ushered him through. Throwing the duffle bag into a shopping cart, he rushed to find a taxi he hoped would get him to the hydroplane to Goa. Unfortunately, the meat would probably spoil before getting there in the Indian heat.
Travel in India
After witnessing this catastrophe, we made it through customs and looked for a Tuk Tuk to take us to the bus to Gokarna, the town closest to Om Beach. The following ride in the Tuk Tuk was, and still is, the most harrowing yet exciting ride we have ever taken. No carnival ride could compare as you believe you will leave the ride alive. Zipping full speed, dodging, and squeezing through traffic while people wander aimlessly in the middle of the street. Nobody was hit, no accidents. An advertisement for a VISA card featuring Roger Moore seems the closest to the experience.
We made it to the bus in time to get one of the last available seats. “Only eight hours to Gokarna,” we were told. Thus began our long journey into the depths of India. The bus was an old, dirty, worn-out zombie of a dinosaur that had been driven past its death and revived many times. We rattled slowly down the road for hours on end which began to feel like days. The seat in front of us was, of course, broken, slamming backward into my lap with nearly every bump. Halfway through the journey, we stopped for a much-welcomed toilet break. It had been about ten hours to get to this point.
Land of Extremes
We had seen some mighty nasty toilets in our travels, but now I understand why they say India is a land of extremes. A pair of Wellington rubber boots would have been excellent at this stop. Teva sandals were not appropriate apparel for this experience. Although one had to pay for the use of the toilet, I have no idea what the lady was being paid for. We were hoping that it was only mud and water that we stepped carefully through before returning to the bus. Now, to continue an additional ten more hours of our eight-hour journey to paradise.
Next: Paradise Found
2 thoughts on “(63) Proper Conduct”
As always, I enjoy your tales of travel. Thanks,
This was another great tale of travel and friendship. Thanks,